Gendusa: Looking at the things I love

Published 10:00 am Thursday, March 23, 2017

I got a new car this year. I love my car, but that is not one of the “things” I truly love. Oh, it is shiny, gadget filled, and is indeed special, but not as special as the old spinning wheel in the hall.

The spinning wheel was crafted by the hands of my great, great grandfather. It has never been refinished. The worn sides are a reminder of the generations of women who spun the yarn with their feet propped up on its edge. It reminds me that not so long ago there was no JoAnn’s or Walmart to run to for yarn and fabric.

When my children were small they used the old wheel for playing the “Price is Right” right in our living room. As they aged, my children swore it moved one night by itself, declaring it haunted. I prefer to think that it was James Randolph returning to insure it still was in working order.

In the dining room is a blue willow vegetable bowl, two chipped blue willow dishes and a platter proudly displayed among cheap copies of blue and white china. Under the lid of the old bowl is a note:

“Please care for these pieces. They belonged to our family in the 1800’s and came from family still in England.”

Every time I look at those pieces I think of the sacrifices that many families made to come to America. The fear of facing the unknown with children in tow and faith in abundance. I run my hands across the chips and look at the perfect condition of the bowl and am awed at the generations these pieces have survived. I am humbled that I am the caretaker of these priceless items for a while.

The lamp in the foyer is a treasure. It was originally a kerosene lamp that lit the way for past generations. The cut crystal bowl at the top is exquisite and delicate. It scares me to death every time I clean it. It came over on a boat with its owner whose family was pursuing a dream. I can just imagine that probably one of my ancestors wrapped it with cloth over and over to protect it. I am sure she worried over it. Every time I pass that lamp, I think of her. I make a silent promise to continue to worry over it.

On my old hutch, worn and damaged from the flood my parents endured one year, is my Dad’s fishing creel he inherited from one of his relatives. It is now over 150 years old. Beside it is a picture of my father as a very young man holding a huge bass he caught at the Monterey Lake in the town where I was born in Tennessee.

How many times did he fish in that lake that was owned by his uncles? How many times did he rub the leather straps with conditioning oil to protect it? To this day that old creel is magnificent. It reminds me of the father who never took for granted any “thing” he ever had. He took care of every possession he owned because he appreciated the fact that he could have them.

The dough bowl was carved by the same person who carved the spinning wheel. I can still see my great grandmother with flour up to her little elbows in her kitchen. The wood burning stove is behind her and she is making biscuits using the old dough bowl that belonged to her mother.

Her hair is tied in a bun at the nape of her neck and her apron is soiled from all the dishes she is preparing to serve after church. How special is that old bowl?

As far back as I can remember my family treasured the treasures of their heritage. They protected and cherished the things they had and then handed them down the line. From fry pans to crystal, from photos to a fine washstand or a treasured book. These items reflect the stories of pioneers, hard workers, and courageous people.

Yes, I have some shiny new things, but it is the things that came from yesterday that are my most valuable treasures. They remind me of those that paved the way for me to have the life I have now and to be very grateful for my ancestors.

My daughter, Amy, has her grandmother’s letter sweater from high school mounted and framed. My daughter, Heather, has the dining table that my uncles and father made the year I was born. My son, Corey, has his grandfather’s hats and pocket knives.

The tradition of valuing the real meaningful material things in life continues.

My great, great grandfather must have a smile on his face every time I polish the old spinning wheel and dust the shelves where pictures of his children and grandchildren reside.

We all love “things.” I find it is the sentimental items that touch our hearts that are the most valuable. The cars, clothes, and stylish trinkets will come and go. The pictures, old family Bibles, a grandmother’s ewer, a love letter, or an old spinning wheel turn our lives to the past and let those lives that cherished those “things” become priceless.